Yankees

Jackie Robinson Day: Rain Pushes Back Yankees’ Mandela Tribute

Nelson Mandela at Yankee Stadium in June 1990 (Photo by Maria Bastone/AFP/Getty Images); Jackie Robinson (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Nelson Mandela at Yankee Stadium in June 1990 (Photo by Maria Bastone/AFP/Getty Images); Jackie Robinson (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The New York Yankees had something special in store for Jackie Robinson Day. But the weather refused to cooperate.

The Yankees have postponed Tuesday night’s game against the Chicago Cubs with steady rain expected all night in the Bronx. They’ll make it up Wednesday at 1:05 p.m. as part of a day-night doubleheader.

The team planned to unveil a plaque in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park on Tuesday honoring Nelson Mandela, the beloved human rights activist and South African leader who died in December at age 95.

Those festivities will take place prior to the second game of Wednesday’s double dip, the Yankees said.

The Yankees previously announced that Mandela’s grandson, Zondwa Mandela, would be in attendance along with South African Consul General George Monyemangene and Nelson Mandela Foundation CEO Sello Hatang. Also expected for the festivities at Yankee Stadium: Jackie Robinson’s widow, Rachel Robinson, daughter Sharon Robinson, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, former New York City Mayor David Dinkins and Rev. Al Sharpton.

The plaque will pay tribute to Mandela’s June 1990 visit to Yankee Stadium. “You know who I am. I am a Yankee,” Mandela, just months after being released from a South African prison, famously said at the old ballpark.

Teams across MLB will take the field Tuesday wearing No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947.

“It’s a wonderful thing that they have Jackie Robinson Day. That goes without saying,” Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said, according to MLB.com. “I’ve enjoyed getting to know his family over the years. I first met his wife that first year at the Baseball Writers’ dinner in 1996. I’ve gotten to know her well, same thing with her daughter. We all look forward to having that game when we all get to wear that No. 42 and honor him.”

Mariano Rivera was the last player to regularly wear No. 42, which was universally retired in 1997. Rivera called it a career at the end of last season.

“Obviously, Jackie has meant a great deal to all of us,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. “He meant a lot to Mo in wearing that number and the way Mo wore that number with such a lot of pride. Derek has been very involved. It means a lot for Derek to play on those days and be a part of that.”

Every MLB player and coach in uniform will be wearing Robinson’s number. Tributes are planned at ballparks across the country, including Chase Field in Arizona, where the Diamondbacks will be hosting the New York Mets.

A nod to Robinson will also be seen as part of the New York City skyline:

Rachel Robinson said her husband was aware of his legacy as a trailblazer.

“I think he knew that, because as time went on, the number of black fans in the stadiums was increasing,” she told WFAN’s “Boomer & Carton” show in April 2013. “They were very vocal and they would greet him afterwards, and he got a sense that he was making a difference.”

Mandela’s plaque won’t be the first to share Monument Park with the greatest Yankees players, managers, broadcasters and owners. Three papal visits are also commemorated in the space. In 2002, the Yankees built a monument for the victims of the September 11 terror attacks.

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